Edmodo vs Google Classroom
Since I started teaching at the university in 2004, I have always felt the need to use learning management systems (LMS) for my courses. Otherwise, I usually get lost and I could not find a unique platform for communication with students. For example, I sometimes need to make an announcement about the cancellation of the class on the last minute or I have to remind my students of the due dates of the assignments. Using e-mail accounts or my personal website is not a solution for this issue. Thus, the name of the LMS is the first thing while designing my syllabus for the course.
Up to now, I have used different platforms, such as Tapped In, Nicenet, Ning, Dokeos, Facebook, Moodle, Edmodo, and finally Google Classroom. Tapped In was a text-based platform. It was quite good when it was active but it was closed. Nicenet was also a text-based platform and you cannot even upload basic documents. You should copy/paste the information and it was useless. Ning was very good when I first found it; it was free at the beginning; however, they asked me to pay for it after a while. Dokeos was an open source platform. You could easily modify the system according to your needs. I also had a published proceeding and a presentation on Dokeos at a conference. Yet, the problem was that they delete your data when they update the system/interface. You should keep your files up-to-date on a specific hard drive. Facebook works very well. I should admit it. But, it was not solely on your classes and most of the time both my students and I have lost my concentration on my course and distracted with videos and my friends’ status updates. Moodle is still one of the best LMS in the world. I also tried it. I installed it on my personal website and I used it for about two semesters. I have for rights all administrative controls about the membership, design, etc. but it still requires technical knowledge in order to fully benefit from its features. The last two platforms were Edmodo and Google Classroom. I was quite happy with Edmodo. It is free of charge, it has many features for classroom management. However, I also wanted to give a try to Google Classroom as our university has purchased it. At first, it seems a good idea because it is supported by Google and I can easily integrate Google Drive for assignments, files, materials. However, after two months of experience in Google Classroom, I can easily claim that Edmodo is much better in terms of the following points.
Membership: If your institution hasn’t paid for Google Classroom, you cannot use your own Google account in order to create a classroom as a teacher or join a classroom as a student. You are asked to purchase Google Classroom as the institution in order to use it. That could be accepted to some extent but you do not have the right to use your Google account even your institution purchase it. You are asked to use a username, which is provided by the technical office of your school. For example, one of your students have some problems about his/her username or password. S/he should contact technical staff in order to solve this problem. To speak to my own context, I had at least 10 students whose accounts were not created at the beginning of the semester and they missed some deadlines. You cannot reset your students’ passwords as a teacher. You asked to them to e-mail to the technical assistance unit or stop by their office. Finally, the e-mail accounts provided by the institution is not used for e-mail services (unless the administrative unit allows you to use them). They use it just like a username and password.
However, if you are using Edmodo, the students can easily prefer to use their personal e-mail address (from any e-mail service company, such as Google, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc.). They receive updates through their e-mail accounts. They can reset their passwords on their own; however, if they also forget the e-mail password, you have the right to reset their passwords as a teacher. It is not based on institutions so anyone can create accounts as a teacher or a student; can login using the information s/he provided during the registration. Thus, the number of problems about registration is minimized and teachers can easily solve the problems without any help from an outsider.
Collaboration: One of the purposes of Web 2.0 tools is to contribute to the collaboration among educators, learners, and ordinary users. If you are using Edmodo, you have the chance to meet educators from your own field and contact them easily. However, Google Classroom is a more closed platform. I couldn’t even see the trial version until our institution purchased it.
Permission to files: You create some files on Google Documents and there is no limit for the size of the file. That was the greatest feature when I first heard about it. I was planning to share some of my files on Google Drive at the beginning of the semester. However, I noticed that I had another Google Drive account associated with the e-mail account provided by the technical staff. In other words, I had two different accounts for Google Drive. This was a bit confusing. Anyway, I also accepted this. However, when I share a document with my students, some of them couldn’t reach the document. The reason is that their mobile devices are automatically logged into their personal accounts. They didn’t even notice that and the files are shared with the institutional accounts. Then, your students begin to send their assignments via e-mail in order not to miss the due date.
Additional features: As I used Edmodo first, I expected to see some features on Google Classroom but there were no features like creating small groups within the classroom, quiz, and timing for quizzes. In Edmodo platform, you can create small groups and your students can also work in groups. For example, you have 50 students in your classroom. You can group them into 5 and then they can discuss and work within small groups. They do not see the sharings of the other groups, which allows more participation. As for the quizzes, you can create quizzes on Edmodo and assign it with a time limit. In Google Classroom, you can only ask a single question at a time. I know that online exams and quizzes are not an appropriate measurement for your courses. The students could easily cheat; they can search for information on Google or anyone else could easily complete it. However, my purpose is not to measure their academic performances. I just want them to monitor their own learning and be aware of their achievements.
Finally, I can easily say that Google Classroom is a great fail if you have already used Edmodo for your courses. There are many limitations and you always need some technical staff to solve your problems. However, you can easily control your students and your information with some basic computer skills. As a conclusion, I will definitely go back to Edmodo as soon as this semester ends. I might have expected more when the tool was created by Google and this expectation resulted in disappointment.